Scientific bull… (you know the rest)

Do you take what scientists and researchers write and publish for granted? You shouldn’t.

No, I’m not supporting conspiracy theories or promoting stuff like creationism in favour of evolution. There are just times when you read a scientific article and just know the stuff you’ve just read is utter bull… crap?!

Many people, especially scientists and other intellectuals, speak against Wikipedia and other open projects because anyone can edit such a database and, indeed, they are right, but when you see what can be found in a work labelled as “scientific“, a work whose authors are prestigious university professors and such… you come to realize that Wikipedia and other open projects are a bastion of knowledge, especially since texts on a decent open project are often verified – you just might be unlucky to stumble upon a text before its verification. Scientific works, on the other hand, are not verified. After all, who’d verify a text written by a “prestigious” scientist?

Anyway, one such “prestigious” scientist is Spike Peterson, a respected professor of the University of Arizona.

I am talking about her article Political Identities / Nationalism as Heterosexism published in International Feminist Journal in 1999.

Pretty much from the start I got the impression the article is overexaggerated and a bit outstretched, but I just thought well, I may find it that way, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. However, that was before I came to this part:

Particularly chilling examples of decrying abortion as treason are quoted in Julie Mostov’s discussion of nationalism in the Balkans. She writes:

Croatian President Franjo Tuđman blamed the tragedy of Croatian nation on “women, pornography and abortion”…

Mkay, first let’s make it clear that I do not idolize Tuđman nor do I go into a trance whenever I see or hear his name because he was the first Croatian president – the president who led the country through the war – like many of my country mates (both man and women). Many things (both positive and negative) can be said about him [the biggest negative in my eyes being his plan to divide Bosnia with Milošević (sadly and ironically Bosnia has ended up divided anyway :( just not the way Tuđman planned)]. One thing, that simply can’t be said about him is that he had anything against women, let alone blaming them for the “tragedy of Croatian nation” (I do wonder what kind of tragedy that is :o ).

To further elaborate, these are the notes I took about the quote:

Although Tuđman is often idealized in Croatia, he did have his vices (such as wanting to divide Bosnia). However, he definitely did not blame the “tragedy” of Croatian nation on women and abortion. Firstly, some of his close associates were women, one of whom, Jadranka Kosor, became Croatian Prime Minister a decade later. Secondly, he was proud of the rights women in Croatia had (and still have) (including the right to abort) and had no intention of reducing them. If indeed he thought of the abortion as such a “tragedy”, there wouldn’t be any discussions about illegalizing abortions in Croatia now because they would have been illegalized a long time ago since Tuđman was Alfa & Omega of Croatia in the nineties. I can’t be sure what stance regarding pornography the late President had. All I know is that his nephew’s (“Porno Tuđman”) porno film is quite popular on the Internet.

So, after finding out that at least one of “particularly chilly examples of decrying abortion as treason” (the other being Hungarian nationalists tying abortion to the death of the nation and decreeing it “national catastrophe”, which I can’t vouch for) is an utter lie, I began to question the overall quality of the article …and the overall quality of Spike Peterson as a research for not doing the slightest check of the stuff she wrote …and the overall quality of the University of Arizona for having such lousy researcher(s) and actually sponsoring them. After all, it’s been 16 years since the article was published and so far I haven’t seen an apology of Peterson nor of the University. Actually, I’m pretty sure Peterson still believes the crap she wrote. I got the impression that Peterson had been in her cosy little office in Arizona “doing research” not stepping one cm² outside the US (maybe even Arizona) her whole life and, thus, not gaining any first-hand experience. To put it in simply, she trashed things she knew nothing about expect of what she’d heard.

As you can see, Peterson didn’t make the crap up. Rather, she quoted Julie Mostov, another “prestigious” professor [this one from Drexel University (so, yeah, I have my doubts about the quality Drexel University, just like I have my doubts about the quality of the University of Arizona for the same reason)]. The work she quoted is “Our Women”/”Their Women” Symbolic Boundaries, Territorial Markers, and Violence in the Balkans from 1995.

I, of course, checked Mostov’s article before making my final opinion (the article is a babbling similar to Peterson’s with no first-hand experience). I found the quote like, obviously, Peterson had done before me. However, unlike Peterson, I actually checked the “source” of her information. Surprise, surprise, unlike Peterson’s article, Mostov’s doesn’t even have a clear reference to the claim about Tuđman, merely a footnote not really leading any way.

Since both Peterson and Mostov strike me like people who’d jump on me being a sexists or having something against women just because I criticized the two of them, the two big feminists; no, I’m nothing of the sort. Those of you who have dropped an eye on my previous posts can vouch for me. Anyway, there are two reasons why me criticizing you like this doesn’t make me a sexist (nor anything of the sort): One – neither of you two is the centre of the universe (you’re neither the sole two human beings nor the sole two women), so something being said about you doesn’t affect the rest of humanity (nor just the female part). Two – I’m not obsessed with the contents of people’s pants. The fact is that both of you are poor researchers (especially Mostov since Peterson’s only real crime is trusting people like Mostov) and put shame on your universities and on the scientific community as a whole, and you’d be the same poor researchers who would still bring the same shame if you had balls in your pants.

A few days ago Business Insider published the article 23 Words that don’t exist in English but perfectly capture the experience of travel. Indeed, what does travel have in common with science and research? I can’t think of anything expect that sometimes discoveries are made during travel. Well, you can definitely conduct research while travelling. Actually, sometimes the sole purpose of travelling is conducting research. Anyway, a Finnish word, huuhaa is on the list (as is Croatian word vukojebina :D ). Aye, I love pretty much everything Finnish, but what makes huuhaa interesting is its meaning: according to Business Insider, huuhaa are “unfounded or unscientific claims and beliefs used to scam people” (aye, I need a Fin to verify the meaning :D ). I do wonder whether Peterson and Mostov just pulled a huuhaa or two :o

Now, I wouldn’t be any better than Mostov and Peterson if I didn’t provide you with the articles in question so you can make your own mind, wouldn’t I?

Political Identities / Nationalism as Heterosexism by Spike Peterson is available here.
“Our Women”/”Their Women” Symbolic Boundaries, Territorial Markers, and Violence in the Balkans is available here. Unfortunately, you can only download the article for free from an institution registered to Wiley Online Library. I suggest you try downloading the article from the nearest (university) library. If the library you’re at doesn’t have free access to Wiley, I recommend Googling a bit because it is very likely the article is available in another similar database, a database your library does have free access to. I apologize for not giving you the article directly, but I don’t want to break any copyright.

In the end, I’d like to show you the notes I took of Political Identities / Nationalism as Heterosexism during the reading. You can download them here :)


Posted on 31st May 2015 at 15:46 GMT
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Star Wars: Rebels

I have just watched the last episode of Star Wars: Rebels.

So Mickey the Rat said: No, the rebellion hadn’t started the way it was described in “The Force Unleashed and Kyle Katarn did not steal Death Star plans [meaning that I went through all that trouble of enduring the crappy graphics of Dark Forces in the first level of the game for nothing :D ] (and other crap too) and what did we get in return?! Another Saturday morning cartoon (the other being The Clone Wars), of course!

Somehow, I hoped that Star Wars: Rebels would be a real series with real actors about a realistic rebel cell :o

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Star Wars is being shown to the younger public. That’s a great way to introduce people with Star Wars from the earliest age! However, Star Wars I knew wasn’t a children’s show in essence. Yet, that is exactly what Star Wars has become of late. I wish I could say that the process’s been going on since Disney’s acquisition. Unfortunately, the process has been going on as early as The Clone Wars when the canon priority was given to the cartoon. The Rat has even gone further by saying that everything except the movies (I’m pretty sure he’d cancel the previous movies too if he could) and the bloody cartoon ain’t canon. Then they make another Saturday morning cartoon making it canon while cancelling stuff like the mentioned Force Unleashed, Dark Forces, Shadows of the Empire and so on. So yeah, you can make as many cartoons as you want, but you should give priority to the real stuff. Since the rat cancelled everything from the Expanded Universe, why did he keep a Saturday morning cartoon canon?!

I know that Maul cut in half with his mechanical legs is cool to kids, but as your brain develops, you know that it is idiotic to imply that someone would survive without taking neither a piss nor a shit for 10 years (his body being cut from the ass below and him being on a planet with no medical care for these 10 years…). That lighsaber of the Inquisitor might look cool, but everyone can see how impractical and clumsy such a weapon would be… not to mention the blade spinning is just a tiny bit improbable and silly. What about a kid shooting stormtroopers down with a slingshot? What about a droid having a jet engine where its midwheel is in other scenes? Then there is an asteroid with breathable atmosphere, normal gravity and temperate temperatures. Even as a kid I knew that such an asteroid is unlikely to say the least…
On top of all of it, the rat introduced childishness in the movies. Check the idiotic saber in this trailer of Episode VII. It’s, actually, supposed to be cool and I’m sure kids find it cool but, seriously, what is the bloody purpose of having deadly lasers popping out of the hilt?! I mean, they are too small to threaten the opponent, but perfect for cutting the wielder’s fingers. I mean, yeah crossguard is quite shiny and useful on a steel sword, but on a lightsaber also known as lasersword (LASER – figure it out yourself)… So, the Rat decided to keep more of the Expended Universe! In addition to a Saturday morning cartoon, he dug out an idiotic lightsaber (crossguard lightsaber, a saber like the one as seen in the trailer already appeared in a comic)!

And why is the Rat turning Star Wars into a children’s show? Money, of course! Think about it, you’re more likely to buy a movie ticket for your kid, so he can watch his favourite movie on a big screen than you are for yourself. You can probably wait for a DVD release (not to mention  the leaks) and the big screen isn’t that important to you, but you’d do anything for your child and buying a movie ticket certainly ain’t much. If nothing else, then to keep an impatient brat quite. That being said, I can say with a pretty big certainty that Lucas wasn’t thinking about anything but money when he sold Star Wars to the Rat. After all, what was the amount he sold Star Wars for? $ 4.05 billion? Indeed, Trey Parker and Matt Stone were quite right to depict Lucas raping a stormtrooper all those years ago (in 2008 to be precise, the year when The Clone Wars cartoon started airing :) ) in South Park.

Finally, the Rat should have stuck with the Pirates instead of messing with Star Wars. That way, at least we’d have another Pirates movie by now and I guess it would be good, since every Pirate movie thus far kicks ass :D Pirates of the Caribbean are the most mature Disney work anyway…

P.S. The lightsaber blades in Star Wars: Rebels are so lame…

Posted on May 6th, 2015 at 15:21 GMT
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Splinter of the Mind’s Eye


GENRE: science fiction

Like so many fellow bloggers before me [Muda od labuda (Bosnian) and Kialtho :D in particular], I’m gonna blog about a book. Well, not exactly like the mentioned guys because I’m not gonna write like a real review. Hopefully this post will get one of these two, or someone else who bumps into the post, intrigued in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, make him or her want to read the book and possible write a real review.

The post isn’t solely about Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. I’ll be comparing the book with other, “more recent”, Star Wars works, especially with Shadows of the Empire. Shadows of the Empire and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye have some similarities. Both books are set in time of the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI). Splinter of the Mind’s Eye takes place between Episodes IV and V while Shadows of the Empire takes place between Episodes V and VI. Both books had been written before the release of the prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III). However Shadows of the Empire was published in 1996, 13 years after the release of Episode VI while Splinter of the Mind’s Eye had been published two years before even Episode V. A New Hope, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and The Empire Strikes Back were indeed released in chronological order. That’s not the case with The Empire Strikes Back, Shadows of the Empire and the Return of the Jedi. Shadows of the Empire is actually a prequel of the Return of the Jedi. That is the key difference between Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Shadows of the Empire: both were written “in the dark” of the prequel trilogy but unlike Shadows of the Empire, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was written in the dark of Episodes V and VI, its sequels, too. Basically some parallels can be drawn between these two books. but what I (and probably other Star Wars fans too) find most interesting are the, so to say, shades of grey caused by this “darkness”.

What got me intrigued about this book is that it is the first Star Wars book, written all the way back in 1978. Well, not the first first Star Wars book. The first ever was the novelization of A New Hope (entitled at first Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker; the title was changed later to match the new title of the movie), which had actually been published before the movie was released, thus there are quite a few differences between the movie and the novelization. Nevertheless, both the novelization and the movie were based on the same script, so I can freely say that A New Hope novelization doesn’t count :D It is interesting, however, that, although credited to George Lucas, A New Hope novelization was ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster (i.e. Lucas and Foster colaborated, that is Lucas wrote the script and Foster turned it into a book), the same author who wrote Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.

Since very few Star Wars books had been written before the renown Thrawn Trilogy (which was written some 5 years before the Shadows of the Empire) especially this early on (actually Splinter of the Mind’s Eye is the second Star Wars work in general, the book being released two years before Episode V), the Star Wars universe was in its early stage of development, many aspects not yet being finalized, many not yet introduced, some initially differently planned. Basically, the book had been written before the Star Wars universe really began to shape (note that the book doesn’t even have Star Wars in its title). Anyway, I would like to comment on this different look on Star Wars back then from the look Star Wars got only two years later with the release of Episode V … and later still, of course. But the point is that there were a few crucial changes just in those two years.

What makes the development of the Star Wars world so interesting is Lucas’s bullshit that he’d had a clear picture of Star Wars from the start, having the whole story done. Well, works like Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, Shadows of the Empire, the Thrawn Trilogy (Lucas had a big say in the Thrawn Trilogy labelling it the official continuation of the original trilogy… until he sold his soul to Disney for “mere” $ 4.05 billion) say otherwise… and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t plan the Disney abomination called the sequel trilogy. He woke up one morning, made Star Wars up and just happened to bump into 4.05 billion bucks some 40 years later…

Before proceeding, I should write the book synopsis:

Other than taking place long ago in a galaxy far far away, of course, the book takes place shortly before the events of Episode V.

In short, Leia and Luke were on their way to a secret Rebel meeting on Circarpous IV because the Circarpousians’d been fed up with Imperial shit when suddenly Leia’s Y-wing started to malfunction and they were forced to land on the nearest planet, which was fortunately habitual. But, unfortunately, they got hit by atmospheric disturbance and crash landed.

After several days of roaming the jungle they bumped on an Imperial mining town. The mining operation was responsible for atmospheric disturbance that crash landed them. They meet a Force-sensitive woman, Halla, in the town, who agrees to help them get of world, but in return she asks them a favour. She showed them a splinter of an ancient crystal powerful in the Force. Halla wants Leia and Luke [and the droids – R2D2 :D and C3PO :( (bloody hell, I hate that goldenrod >:( )] to help her get to the crystal, which she had been trying for years, because she’s afraid of what might happen if the crystal ended up in Imperial hands (thus far the Empire hadn’t been aware of the crystal’s existence). Upon touching the splinter, Luke immediately felt the strength of the Force within it and decided to help Halla unquestionably. What, indeed, if a Force-sensitive Imperial, say Vader, finds the crystal first…

Summary on the covers of the book:

Stranded on a jungle planet, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia found themselves desperately racing Imperial Stormtroopers to claim a gem that had mysterious powers over the Force.

Luke Skywalker expected trouble when he volunteered to follow Princess Leia on her mission to Circarpous to enlist their Rebel underground in the battle against the Empire. But the farm boy from Tatooine hadn’t counted on an unscheduled landing in the swamplands of Mimban …hadn’t counted on any of the things they would find on that strange planet.

Hidden on this planet was the Kaiburr crystal, a mysterious gem that would give the one who possessed it such powers over the Force that he would be all but invincible. In the wrong hands, the crystal could be deadly. So Luke had to find this treasure and find it fast.

Accompanied by Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio—his two faithful ‘droids—Luke and the Princess set out for the Temple of Pomojema …and a confrontation deep beneath the surface of an alien world with the most fearsome villain in the galaxy!

Most of the plot occurs on a single planet. That’s because Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was actually backup for a low budget Star Wars movie. Basically, Lucas decided to film a Star Wars squeal in any case. If the incomes from A New Hope had turned out poorly, Lucas would have filmed Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. As it turned out, A New Hope made quite a profit and we saw The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen instead of the Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. That is, also, why Han and Chewie don’t appear in the book – Harrison Ford hadn’t yet signed a contract for another Star Wars movie.

Kaiburr crystal is going to be used in many later Star Wars works, including Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and Legacy of the Force book series. Actually, the crystal is one of the main cons in the continuity of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye because Luke, Leia and Halla took the crystal with them at the end of the book. The crystal was quite powerful, especially its healing properties (though the crystal needed a Force-user as a vessel of its power) yet no mention of the crystal is made in the following movies. I’m quite sure such a crystal would’ve come in handy to the Rebellion. Yet the movies didn’t give a hint about the crystal. This was rectified in later Star Wars works which explained the crystal’s power waned the further the crystal was taken from the temple, meaning the crystal would become pretty much useless when taken far from Mimban, say to Rebellion HQ. Still, what about the rebels on Circarpous IV…

Except of Luke, Leia, Vader, the book introduced other characters, not seen in the later movies. In addition to Halla, whom I mentioned already, new characters are Hin and Kee. Hin and Kee introduced a new species to Star Wars – they are Yuzzem.

Yuzzem are a species similar to Wookiees (yes, Chewbacca). I found the Yuzzem in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye interesting in two aspects:
One is speciesism. Speciesism is a Star Wars equivalent of discrimination like racism just instead of races, the targets are different species other than your own. Naturally, it is shown negatively in Star Wars. An attribute often employed by the dark side. Although the Sith usually care about power in their ranks, no matter the species (indeed, Sith were of various species); their servants often lack wits to overcome speciesism. The Empire employed the “Human High Culture“, which is speciesism centred around humans, hence very few high ranking alien Imperial personnel (none in the movies). Human High Culture accepted species who were similar, at least in appearance, to humans, especially Near-Humans, but others like Wookiees and the Yuzzem… Hin and Kee had been “voluntary labourers” in the Imperial mine Luke and Leia came to. In any case, like in many other works, I find it interesting in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, how the author discriminated himself: Although he certainly did not write from the perspective(s) of an Imp, he often referred to Hin and Kee with “it” long after establishing the “creatures” were sentient and after their sex had been determined (in Hin’s and Kee’s case, male). So I have a question for Foster, and other authors (those that discriminate in such a fashion, of course… and there are many): Why are you surprised with racism, sexism and other kinds of discrimination in the real world if you can’t distance yourself from discrimination when writing a fictitious story?!
The other would be language. Yuzzem, being similar to the Wookiees, speak a similar lingo (yes, those Chewbacca growls :D ). The only difference between the species is that the Yuzzem are physically able to speak Basic (the most common language in the galaxy) while the Wookiees can only understand Basic, but ain’t physically able to speak the lingo (that’s why Chewie understood everything Han and the others told him). Yet Hin and Kee wouldn’t have been able to communicate with Luke, Leia and Halla at all if Luke somehow miraculously hadn’t learned the lingo back on Tatooine to kill time. Mkay, so they can’t speak Basic. Yuzzem, being able to speak Basic probably hadn’t been introduced yet, but why couldn’t they have understood it? And about Luke… Mkay, let’s say Luke was able to learn a lingo solely from a book with no communication in the language. The problem is that the language is grunting similar to Wookieespeak. There is no way in hell he’d be able to learn to speak such a lingo. Like Wookiees ain’t physically able to speak a human lingo, humans can’t grunt like that, not without extensive prior training before at least, which he couldn’t have had on Tatooine. Besides, I do wonder why he never grunted with Chewie then. Fine, Yuzzem and Wookieespeak ain’t the same, but with proper training (I’m sure Chewie would’ve landed a hand… and there’s C3PO)… Speaking of languages in the book, Halla spoke Coway, a local lingo, which is more likely than Luke’s Yuzzem ’cause she spent so many years on Mimban (the problem is that the Coway are quite isolated). What I wanted to point out here is that authors often imply that speaking and/or understanding a foreign language is a piece of cake [hell, my characters in The Old Republic understand every bloody language in the galaxy including Rakatan, a language extinct for millennia; makes me wonder what the point of Basic is then… not to mention the use of protocol droids (droids like C3PO) :D ]. Well, it’s not (especially if the lingo is hissing or growling like Wookiespeak…)! And I’m pretty sure that such authors speak only their language(s) fluently themselves. By creating, for example, the Yuzzem who don’t understand Basic at all and then a human who speaks their lingo; they contradict themselves because a language such as Basic in Star Wars is much more common than Yuzzem and, although there would definitely be Yuzzem who wouldn’t speak it, it is much more likely that Hin and Kee (or at least one of them!) would understand Basic than Luke would speak Yuzzem, especially since Yuzzem who don’t understand Basic would hardly be of any interest to the Empire. Sure, a Yuzzem can lift three times as much of weight as a human can, but a Yuzzem who you can talk to is more useful than a Yuzzem you can’t talk to… Enough of Basic and Yuzzem. I’ll show you what I mean on an example from real life: Many Croatians speak, or at least understand, English, so you are likely to find a Croatian speaking English. Yet how many people from English-speaking countries have any understanding of Croatian? You would bust your ass, indeed, finding someone from an English-speaking country who speaks Croatian. After all, you’re reading a post I wrote in English. When is the last time you blogged in Croatian? Suffice it to say, “Croatian” is Yuzzem in the book and English is Basic ;)

The book described Imperial troops on Mimban as “men and women stationed too long on a backward, desolate world where discipline and training relaxed concurrently with morale”. In addition to speciesism, the High Human Culture of the Empire included male chauvinism. Basically very few Imperial troops were alien and/or women, so Imperial troops can’t really be described as “men and women“. Of course, the Human High Culture was introduced later to explain the lack of aliens and women in Imperial troops in the original trilogy. The truth is that aliens were expensive to “create” back when the original trilogy was filmed (that explains the real reason for the lack of aliens at least, as for women..). Anyway, it’s likely Foster just had no ide of Human High culture back in 1987.

Although I was planning to do it for years, I finally made myself yesterday to go through all my VHS tapes. Goddamn, I counted 51 cassettes. Suffice it to say I needed a big carton box to store them all in. As a comparison, 50 disks (CDs and/or DVDs and/or Blu/rays) fit this spindle box (meaning you could probably stuff 51 disks in such a spindle). I’m telling you this know ’cause tapes are frequently mentioned in the book as a means of storing data [e.g. Leia telling Luke Check your Imperial tapes (about Circarpous V – Mimban)]. Tapes have been removed from later Star Wars works. Actually, I’m pretty sure this is the only Star Wars work where I encountered tapes. This is interesting because it shows how people perceived technological development in the past. How can data possibly be be stored in the “mind’s eye” of 1978? On a tape, of course. Even in the eighties, the decline of the tape could be seen and now we virtually don’t use tapes! Well, I doubt that the youngest Star Wars fans know what a (magnetic) tape is or how it looks at all (here‘s a Wikipedia article about magnetic tape data storage in case I piqued an interest in a “youngest Star Wars fan”). But in 1978…

When did Lucas come up with the Sith and the Rule of Two? According to him, right away when he was writing the scenario for A New Hope. But did he really? Although the term sith was first heard from the big screen with the release of the Episode I, in 1999; Darth Vader was referred to as a Dark Lord of the Sith in the novelization of every episode of the original trilogy, including A New Hope. Likewise, he is referred to as a Sith in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. He is referred to like that in Shadows of the Empire, which was published before Episode I, too. Interestingly both he and Palpatine, the Emperor, are only said to be “dark Jedi” in the Thrawn Trilogy, which had been published before Shadows of the Empire. This would indicate that the usage of the term sith waned over time, probably because it wasn’t used on set, and then resurfaced before the release of Episode I. Indeed, some works released prior to Episode I have sith in their title (e.g. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith). There are others from the nineties that use the term sith too (e.g. Dark Apprentice from 1994).
You might have noticed that I didn’t say Palpatine was referred to as a Sith. That’s because what ever Lucas might say, the idea of Palpatine being a Sith surfaced much later. It was clearly established that Palpatine was a master of the dark side with The Empire Strikes Back. Yet even though his mastery in the dark side (and manipulating events and people) was firmly backed in Shadows of the Empire, he was never referred to as a Sith. Splinter in the Mind’s Eye goes even further because prior to The Empire Strikes Back, the Emperor had been intended to be a weakling, a mere marionette of people like Tarkin. Actually, true power of the Empire was meant to be in the hands of such individuals. After all, in A New Hope Leia said: Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. This is further backed in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Vader being described as Tarkin’s henchmen. In addition to Tarkin being shown as a man behind the curtain, Palpatine’s Force-sensitivity wasn’t even hinted at. When saying she was afraid of Kaiburr crystal falling in Imperial hands, Halla said There are Force-sensitives in the Imperial government who might feel such a stirring, giving no hint at all that the Emperor might a Force-sensitive in the government. Actually, knowing Palpatine as we know him now, he’d probably get rid of every slightly Force-sensitive person in his government. The idea of the Rule of Two from the start is further questionable because many Star Wars works prior to Episode I include more than just two dark side villains and Lucas was mkay with that. Later works explain that by saying those were only dark Jedi not true Sith.
Talking about the Sith and dark Jedi, I think I should clarify the terms now. Dark Jedi are dark side users that are not initiated into the Sith cult, they don’t have insight in the true mysteries of the dark side. Sith, on the other hand, are the masters of the dark side, fully pledged to the dark side members of the Sith order. Since Bane instated the Rule of Two, the Sith frequently used dark Jedi as their lackeys, mostly assassins, to do their dirty work because they were limited to two and, before Palpatine revealed himself, wanted to stay hidden. Dooku and the Separatists used dark Jedi, like Ventress, to counter the Jedi of the Republic, never revealing his master is in fact the man behind the curtain. That makes Qui-Gon recognizing Maul as a Sith a bit outstreched (his only conclusion was that Maul’d been a Sith Lord simply because he was trained in the Jedi arts) – Maul could easily have been a dark Jedi.

Another interesting thing is the development of the perception of the Force in Star Wars. How poor it was in A New Hope and how powerful it turned out to be in Revenge of the Sith (frankly, as early as Return of the Jedi with Palpatine’s Force lightning)! Just compare the poor duel between Obi-Wan and Vader in A New Hope and their duel in Revenge of the Sith! Splinter of the Mind’s Eye is more like on the level with A New Hope. Halla introduced herself as a Force master. To prove her Force mastery she moved a spice shaker a few centimetres. After the feat she was all sweaty… Although Luke wasn’t impressed by her “parlour trick”. Later Halla and Luke worked together to move a tray to hit the switch to dematerialized the bars of a prison cell in a jail (yes, a pretty “modern” Star Wars prison with dematerializing bars; I can’t say I remember any such prison in other Star Wars works :o ). Suffice it to say, they were both totally exhausted after they’d hit the switch. At the end of the book though, there came Vader who conjured a ball of Force energy, which Luke – who barely moved a tray with Halla’s help – somehow managed to deflect. Also, in the end, Halla did admit she was a “Force charlatan”.

Now. the lightsabers. From The Empire Strikes Back, the heat of a lightsaber beam cauterizes a wound the saber inflicts immediately. In A New Hope, though, the wound wasn’t cauterized when Obi-Wan cut the arm of that fellow in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Well, in the first lightsaber fight in the book, in a brawl, when Luke cut a hand off a miner it was clearly stated that the wound was indeed cauterized (Off came a hand, cut and cauterized neatly at the wrist…), but when Luke, later, cut Vader’s arm off, he was surprised by the lack of blood. In addition to blood actually being cauterized, knowing the events of the Attack of the Clones, we can now explain this by the fact that Dooku’d cut Vader’s real arm decades before the events of Splinter in Mind’s Eye, meaning Luke merely cut a mechanical arm. The problem is that Luke did see blood, he just expected to see more.
Lightsabers are supposed to cut through anything. When touching body, they usually cut a body part off, that is it’s very hard to stop a lightsaber from cutting your limb off if you didn’t manage to deflect the blow in the first place. Yet Vader didn’t cut a single piece of Leia, but gave her a million gashes… It’s implied that Vader was only taunting her, but it’s hard to believe that one with so little patience wouldn’t slip at least once and cut a millimetre too deep, thus, severing her limb. That being said, lightsaber is a dangerous weapon and can be wielded only by professionally trained, usually Force-sensitive, people. Us “mortals” would end up cutting ourselves pretty much as soon as we would make a swing. In later Star Wars works, Jedi often comment when they return their lightsabers from thugs who’d stolen them that they actually saved the thugs’ life by stealing their weapons back. Indeed, think about it. When someone untrained in sword “play” takes a sword for the first time, he usually ends up with cuts and bruises. Now, imagine that instead of steel blade, you cut yourself with a deadly laser beam… However, both Luke and Leia, both yet untrained in the use of a lightsaber – especially Leia who would become a Jedi decades later and who showed no hint of Force-sensitivity in the book – wield the lightsaber against Vader – a true master in lightsaber combat – to deadly precision. Although Luke’s mastery in the lightsaber and Force art (him deflecting Vader’s “Force-ball”), can be attributed to Obi-Wan’s spirit taking control of him. Before the duel he said I’m Ben Kenobi. Later, in the Empire Strikes Back, Obi-Wan did tell Luke he couldn’t help him anymore. I always thought that referred to Obi-Wan’s whispering to Luke in the Death Star trench, but really like Use the Force, Luke and The Force will be with you, always were of much use, so who knows…
Not to mention that no one shows a bit of recognition about a lightsaber, a renown weapon of the Jedi. Yes, by the time of the book the Jedi had been all but exterminated, but that was some 20 years before the events of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. There’s just no way in hell nobody would remember them. Someone would likely call the authorities to “deal” with Luke and Leia. After all, some Jedi did survive the purge. This is not clearly stated in the original trilogy – even though Obi-Wan did say in A New Hope the Jedi had been all but exterminated – but it is logical. There is no way in hell you could exterminate every Jedi in the galaxy with a single blow, no matter how good (or evil in this case :o ) you are. That’s why the Empire would kill Luke and Leia as soon as they saw them with a lightsaber. A goal of the Empire was to exterminate all the remaining Jedi, after all.

A word or two about Lucas’s plan for the Skywalker family:
So the sibling relation between Luke and Leia is not even hinted at. Quite the contrary, there is sexual tension between them, especially regarding Luke’s feelings towards Leia. Very well, they didn’t know they were siblings. However, upon Luke telling Leia he was his brother in the Return of the Jedi, Leia told him that somehow she’d always known. That is strengthened in Shadows of the Empire when Leia was longing for Han and thought there was Luke, but that, although always having feelings for her, those feelings were different and she couldn’t quite put her finger on how different. In Splinter of Mind’s Eye, however, she shows no hint of “having a feeling” Luke is “something more”. Furthermore, her Force-sensitivity isn’t implied to at all, expect in the duel with Vader although at the time, we did not know Force-sensitivity, or just extra skill, is required to wield a lightsaber. In the Shadows of the Empire (written after the original trilogy), in addition of Leia having “different feelings” for Luke, her Force-sensitivity was implied when she called to Luke the same way Luke had called to her on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back.
Another example of the Skywalker family tree is Vader calling Luke Skywalker showing no indication of knowing Luke was his son. I mean, Skywalker was Vader’s real surname. Luke being strong with the Force and Vader knowing Padmé‘d been pregnant with him some 20 years ago, he should have at least suspected Luke was his son, as he did in The Empire Strikes Back. Moreover, Vader wanted Luke dead in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, which is best seen in this quote: I probably won’t have the patience to let you last as long as you deserve. In The Empire Strikes Back, Shadows of the Empire and Return of the Jedi, Vader clearly wanted Luke alive. Regarding the Skywalker family tree, it’s interesting what Luke says about his parents at the beginning of the book. Lemme cite the first three paragraphs of the book:

How beautiful was the universe, Luke thought. How beautifully flowing, glorious and aglow like the robe of a queen. Ice-black clean in its emptiness and solitude, so unlike the motley collage of spinning dust motes men called their worlds, where the human bacteria throve and multiplied and slaughtered one another. All so that one might say he stood a little higher than his fellows.

In depressed moments he felt sure there was no really happy living matter on any of those worlds. Only a plethora of destructive human diseases which fought and raged constantly against one another, a sequence of cancerous civilizations which fed on its own body, never healing yet somehow not quite dying.

A particularly virulent strain of one of those cancers had killed his own mother and father, then his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. It had also taken from him the man he had learned to respect more than any other, the elderly Jedi knight Ben Kenobi.

So, Uncle Owen told Luke a nasty cancer had killed his parents… At least, that’s how we look at the story now, but I’m pretty sure that a “particularly virulent strain of a cancer” (the strain that killed Anakin Skywalker being Darth Vader, of course) had been the true death of the old Skywalkers.

Metric system (kilogrammes, kilometres, metres etc.) is used throughout Star Wars, probably because it’s more likely that a society in a galaxy far, far away would have measures based on the number 10 than any other kind of a measuring system. Yet Leia was buried under four feet of mud, probably because the book had been written before metric system was chosen for the measuring system used in Star Wars. I remember troopers in the early episodes of that Saturday morning cartoon The Clone Wars, saying something was a few inches long. That’s probably because The Clone Wars is a Saturday morning cartoon and you can’t expect American kids to deal with international measures, but you “can” expect kids from the rest of the world to deal with measures used almost exclusively in the US… Luckily, this crap was rectified in later episodes of the Saturday morning cartoon.

Finally, let me just say that the word “droid” is always spelled ‘droid (with an apostrophe) in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye since “droid” was considered an abbreviation of “android” :D

If you ask me whether I’d recommend you to read Splinter of the Mind’s Eye; yes, I would definitely recommend the book, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan. The book is quite thrilling. What I’ve wrote about in the post thus far is by no account a criticism towards the book (mkay except the language thing and discrimination thing, which were more like critiques of the author anyway). I only pointed the perspective of things from an old, rather ancient (1978!), Star Wars book to a “modern Star Wars fan”.

There are, however, a few critiques regarding the book I do have:

The book says Luke shot down Vader’s TIE in the Death Star trench. It was Han Solo who shot him down… Time for more citing :D

Darth Vader addressed them in a coldly conversational tone. “You know, Skywalker, I had a difficult time finding out that it was you who shot up my TIE fighter above the Death Star station. Rebellion spies are hard and expensive to come by. I also found out it was you who released the torpedo that destroyed the station. You have a great deal to atone for to me. I’ve waited a long time.”

Mkay, let’s set aside the fact that Foster ghostwrote A New Hope novelization and should have known full well who shot Vader in the Death Star trench, because he bloody wrote it, now. Mkay, Vader couldn’t have known who actually shot him and could have been given a wrong information, but another information that had been given to him stated Luke was the one who released the torpedo that destroyed the Deth Star (the right information). Vader being shot down had taken place only a minute or so before the station was destroyed, so how the hell did Vader (and Foster apparently…) believe that the same person was responsible for such simultaneous events?! No offence, but you really have to be extra stupid to believe such shit. No matter how strong with the Force someone is, there is just no way in hell anybody could be in two places at the same time, not even in Star Wars.

Another inconsistency, although not nearly as stupid as the previous one, is Vader’s blade being described as blue. Again, set aside the fact that most dark side users used red blades (many did use other colours, most notably Exar Kun), which was, again introduced long after the release of Splinter of Mind’s Eye; Foster should have known Vader’s saber was red because he wrote so in A New Hope novelization.

R2 is referred to as a Deetoo unit, although it was clearly established he was an Artoo unit in A New Hope. Again, Foster wrote the novelization of A New Hope. I mean, I find it stupid to refer to R2’s series of astromechs wiht R2 units. After all, the only (visual) difference between R2 and Obi-Wan’s astromech was the colour (his droid was red), yet Obi-Wan’s astromech was R4-P17 (neither a bloody R nor a blood 2 in the designation). Still, Artoo has been from an R2 unit since A New Hope!

Since I’ve mentioned a lot of other Star Wars works in the post, I think it’s proper to end the post with Star Wars Legends timeline. I said Legends because most of Star Wars works, including Splinter of the Mind’s Eye ain’t canon anymore. Basically, when Lucas sold his soul to Mickey Mouse, the bloody rat decided to throw 40 years of hard work to a garbage can The rat just said Fuck the previous work. It ain’t canon anymore. I will be good enough to rebrand it to “Legends” now make room for my abominations.


Posted on April 29th, 2015 at 15:26 GMT
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Beyond the Black

Listening to Rock Antenne, I heard a very potential new band called Beyond the Black. They released their début album, Songs of Love and Death on February 13th. They’re German, so they managed to be a support band on Wacken Open Air, the biggest metal festival in the world, last year. The festival spread the word about them and they were a support band on Saxon UK tour this autumn (the link says winter, but all the dates are actually autumn dates :D ). Their singer sounds like Sharon den Adel from Within Temptation :D

The problem with Beyond the Black is little info about them is available and the small info I did manage to find about them is in German, including the interviews on YouTube. I mean, the songs are in English (as is their Facebook page :D ), but other than that… They don’t even have a real website yet. They have a crap on Universal Music (yeah, it’s in German), but that’s it.

Anyway, if you like symphonic metal (bands like Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation etc.), I guarantee you’re going to like Beyond the Black too! :D

Here are some of their songs from Wacken:

In the Shadows

Songs of Love and Death

Running to the Edge

Posted on March 14th, 2015 at 19:31 GMT
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Maribor (CEEPUS)


Use Ctrl+F codes to quickly navigate through the rest of the post:
CEEPUS (cf01)
Maribor (cf02)
-Distances (cf03)
-Picture time (cf04)
-Colours of religion (cf05)
Maribor Castle (cf06)
-Avgust Škrabar (and Karađorđe’s star) (cf07)
-Shoes are boring, wear sneakers (and a critique for my nation mates) (cf08)
-“The Romani question” (cf09)
-Vocabulary (cf10)
University(s) (cf11)
-Vine (cf12)
-Mestni park (cf13)
-The river Drava (cf14)
-Campus Gosposvetska (cf15)
-The best tea in the galaxy (cf16)
-Final words (cf17)
Celje (cf18)
-Picture time (cf19)
-Celjski dom (cf20)
-Castle Celje (cf21)
Graz (cf22)
-Styria (cf23)
-Picture time (cf24)
-Geek time now (cf25)
A Map for the End (cf26)

CEEPUS (cf01)

Nming the post was a thoughy again.

One of my last student adventures, before HSS, was participating in the Central European Exchange Program for University Students (CEEPUS). As the name says, CEEPUS is an exchange programme for university students in Central Europe, kinda like ERASMUS, but covering just Central Europe instead of the whole continent. “Just Central Europe”, huh? Not exactly Central Europe, more like Central Europe and the neighbourhood. The programme covers as eastern parts of Europe as Bulgaria yet neither Germany nor Switzerland are part of the programme and those countries are often considered the heart of Central Europe. Anyway, the countries of CEEPUS Central Europe (i.e. the countries participating in the programme) are:  Albania, Austria (CEEPUS HQ is located in Austria), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Macedonia (FYORM), Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Kosovo, Slovakia, and Slovenia (check the map below). Although not every single university in this region is a CEEPUS member, if you attend a university in such a defined Central Europe, you can probably participate in the programme. It’s definitely worth checking out. Trust me :)

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After the end of your CEEPUS time, you get a letter of confirmation like this one. Yeah, quite poor :o A simple A4 piece of paper, not even printed in colour. In addition, the letters printed are those of basic Latin alphabet (i.e. no diacritics nor accents… at least those most commonly used in Central European lingoes). That’s right, a Central European programme doesn’t print letters common in Central Europe (e.g. it should have said Lučka, not Lucka on my letter of confirmation, my name was misspelled in such a fashion too and the same keyboard layout is used in Slovenia and Croatia)… Anyway, can’t be compared with a Helsinki Summer School diploma :D where, in addition to better paper and colour print, my name is actually correctly spelled. So, the letters common in Central Europe are printed with no biggie on diplomas of an international summer school, but they ain’t printed on Central European Exchange Program for University Students letters of confirmation…

Now, I went to the University of Maribor in Slovenia.
I didn’t want to name the post just CEEPUS because I honestly don’t know much about the programme, only that I went to Maribor through the programme :D
I stayed only for a month (April 2014) and, therefore, didn’t go much outside Maribor. I did go to Celje and Graz, Austria (only 70 klicks from Maribor) though.
In the end I opted for Maribor (CEEPUS) to include both Maribor and CEEPUS :D

MARIBOR (cf02)

Maribor is the second largest city of Slovenia. Indeed, you can say that Ljubljana (capital and the largest city) and Maribor are the only two centres of Slovenia although the coastal region has seen serious development lately and you can say that it’s quickly becoming, if it hasn’t become already, the third centre of Slovenia.

Distances (cf03)

I chose Slovenia, and particularly Maribor, because I live like 20 minutes east of Slovenian border and Maribor is only 113 km away from my town. That is closer than Rijeka (157 km), the closest of the other big Croatian cities (i.e. Rijeka, Split and Osijek). Speaking of distances, my town is closer to Maribor than Ljubljana (the distance between Maribor and Ljubljana is 128 km) :D So I wasn’t far from home, but participated in an international student exchange programme. I have a good buddy in Maribor (me Neighbour :D ). Slovenian and Croatian are similar lingoes, so the language barrier was minimum. Actually, most Slovenians speak Croatian, especially older generation because Serbocroatian was lingua franca of Yugoslavia… and pretty much still is in the ex-Yugoslavia. Although the language of CEEPUS is English, I didn’t have to use English at all (except to clarify something I or the interlocutor said). To come to think of it, the only time I couldn’t communicate was in a Chinese shop in Celje where neither English nor Croatian nor Slovenian helped. Seriously, the only thing the vendor could say was Ne razumem (I don’t understand) and what I don’t understand is how she could do any business in Celje :o Finally, the CEEPUS co-ordinator of my home university suggested Maribor.

Saying how close Maribor is, I’d like to say now how to get to Maribor from my town. Except a car (note you have to buy a vignette if you wanna drive on Slovenian highways), you can take a train or a bus. Each has its pros and cons. One would say that train is the quickest way. Technically that is true, but the train stops in every single village, making the trip to Maribor last two hours at best. The bus, on the other hand, makes only one stop before Maribor: in Krapina, Croatia. The problem with the bus is that Slovenians still like to fuck vehicles with Croatian registration on the border despite that we are now in the EU and the bus does have Croatian registration. You can literally be stuck at the border for hours. Now, they can’t really hold a train for long without screwing up the whole schedule and that would piss the train companies off, especially because if I remember correctly, the train for Maribor only passes through Zagreb and Maribor (its destination is Frankfurt or so and its starting point Belgrade or so).
I’ll never forget the Americans teaching me Pitch in the train I was on on my return trip home. They boarded the train in Vienna, Austria. At first I was very enthusiastic to learn Pitch since it is a card game, after all. I actually Facebooked a girl who was teaching me a few times, but I have no one to play the game with and the bloody passage of time…
Anyway, Slovenians would piss German and Austrian train companies of by delaying trains and they don’t wanna do that.
Likewise, the bus ain’t a straight Zagreb-Maribor line. Its starting point is Zagreb, but its destination is Graz and Maribor is just a stop.
Actually, the bus is intended for one day trips from Zagreb to Graz (it leaves from Zagreb at 6:30 AM and then leaves from Graz at 4:00 PM).

Ironically, as I mentioned above, Maribor is closer to me than Rijeka (43 km closer to be precise), yet the return ticket to Maribor costs 119 HRK while the return ticked to Rijeka costs 38 HRK (that’s 45 km less, but the price is 3 times as high as for Rijeka). Well, Maribor is abroad after all (note, that I never feel like a foreigner in Slovenia and I doubt Slovenians in Croatia feel like foreigners) :D

Anyway, just wanted to say that Maribor is better connected to Zagreb than vice versa. That is, you can make a one-day trip from Zagreb to Maribor by a bus or a train. You board in the morning and leave in the afternoon (bus) or evening (train). If you’re headed from Maribor to Zagreb by a train or a bus, on the other hand, you must stay somewhere over night. Two nights actually: you arrive in the afternoon/evening of one day, but you’d want to do your business in the town the next day, so you’d have to wait for another morning to leave.

Picture time (cf04) :D

Well, let’s “illustrate” Maribor with pictures:

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Another naked boy. Should I be worried for living in a world where naked boys are so “popular” :o

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This is the main square of Maribor… or is it? It is hardly the most popular square in town. Actually, it’s usually empty like this, but its name is Main Square (slo. Glavni trg) probably because Maribor City Hall is located on the square.
That’s the statue of Virgin Mary on the pillar. Now, it ain’t the original statue. The original statue began to seriously degrade over time. That’s why it was decided (in 1990 if I remember correctly) to preserve the original statue in a museum (Maribor Castle to be precise).

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And that’s the city hall on the Main Square

Colours of religion (cf05)

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This is the Franciscan Church in Maribor. It’s located on the Square of Freedom (slo. Trg svobode). Now that square is the true main square of Maribor.

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Speaking of churches, this is Maribor Cathedral. Yeah, it ain’t nearly as popular as the Franciscan Church.

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And, yeah, speaking of churches, this is the Lutheran church in Maribor. Like Croatia, Slovenia is mostly catholic. Nevertheless, some Slovenians are Lutherans. Lutherans are dispersed throughout the country, but they’re not big in number. Therefore, there are just a few Lutheran churches in Slovenia. After the one in Celje was closed, the closest church to this one was in Ljubljana. That being said, the church serves Lutherans neighbouring Maribor. Frankly, since distances here, especially in Slovenia, aren’t much of a problem, the believers outside Maribor can easily reach the church in the town. I spoke to the curator and he told me Lutherans can just a attend Catholic mass when protestant service is unavailable.
Also, I know that some protestant churches are quite liberal and have priestesses. Frankly, I don’t see why the hell a woman couldn’t be a priest(ess) (I have to say here that Old Catholic Church, the views of which suit me the best, has priestesses too). Still I was quite surprised to learn that Lutherans have priestesses. This church is headed by a priestess.

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This is the inside of the church. In case you haven’t been inside a protestant church, you really must go into one to see how overdecorated catholic (and orthodox) churches are. This was the first Lutheran church I had been in. The funny thing is that upon returning home, I learnt that a church near my Uni is in fact Lutheran. Since you can’t really tell a difference between a catholic and a protestant church from the outside because it’s the inside of a catholic church that is so decorated; I didn’t take notice on that particular church :o

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And another church in Maribor

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And speaking of religious buildings, this is the synagogue in Maribor. Yeah, it ain’t much :o
The point is that this is one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. Indeed, Maribor’s had a rich Jewish history.

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Klikni na sliku i obrati pažnju da na “bosansko-hrvatskoj” latinici piše …Bosne in Hercegovine… :D
…and Bosnian consulate a few metres from the synagogue :D

Maribor Castle (cf06)

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This is the Maribor Castle

The castle is a museum today and naturally, in addition to it housing the original statue of the Virgin Mary replica on the Main Square, lots of other stuff can be seen in the castle. The museum pretty much covers the history from the ice age to the 20th century.

Here are some pics:

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This is a replica of a chimneyless house, quite commonly used by the middle-class, Note that fire place was still used for cooking and heating, but there was no chimney!

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You can enter a chimneyless house. I managed to take a pic of the fire place in one.
So our ancestors could choose a way to die outside battlefield – they could either suffocate or freeze to death! What a lovely choice…

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A shiny coat of arms

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There are many models of battles against the Turks, but this is my favourite – LEGOS :D

Avgust Škrabar (and Karađorđe’s star) (cf07)

Click on the image to enlarge it
In short this a poster honouring the history of Maribor, Lt. Col. Avgust Škrabar in particular.

Lt. Col. Avgust Škrabar was awarded the Order of Karađorđe’s Star with Swords for his valour protecting the Slovenian (back then Yugoslav) northern borders.

Avgust Škrabar is a national hero of Slovenia and is remembered as such in Slovenia. Now, if he were in Croatia, his story would probably be interpreted differently.
The border protection would still be honoured and, indeed, many of us would still consider him as a hero. But the medal he received would probably stain him in the eyes of a lot of people.
First, note that he was awarded for protecting Yugoslav, not Slovenian borders. Back then, there were no Slovenian borders, nor Croatian, nor Serbian etc. because the division of Yugoslavia did not follow the borders of modern countries (neither in territory nor in name) back then.
Secondly, the Karađorđević dynasty, the ruling dynasty of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia,  awarded him the medal. The dynasty is nefarious for its attempts to make Serbs the dominant nation in Yugoslavia. They did not name the kingdom (Greater) Serbia or something like that, so their attempt wouldn’t be so transparent. Instead they played with the countries making Yugoslavia. Remember how I said that the division of Yugoslavia back then did not follow the borders of modern countries? Yugoslavia was divided in 9 banovinas. The borders of banovinas intentionally didn’t follow the boundaries of ethnic groups, so there would be a strong Serb presence in as many banovinas as possible and there wouldn’t be any successions attempted in the future (after all, the most likely succession would be of a territory of a particular ethnic group, but if ethnic groups were dispersed through many banovinas…). In addition, the dynasty persecuted nonSerbs, including Slovenes [although not as much as other ethnicities because Slovenes were never a real threat to Serbian domination, since not many Serbs have ever lived in Slovenia (though they are still the second largest minority in Slovenia) and Slovenes are small in number].
All this can, and should, be disregarded since such were the times, and he did risk his life for his homeland.

Now, let’s look at the medal. The medal doesn’t have a single Slovenian symbol, but it does have a big Serbian cross. Even the inscription (За веру и слободу 1804For faith and freedom 1804) isn’t in Slovenian, but in Serbian. Actually, as you can see it wasn’t even written in Latin alphabet even though Serbs use Cyrillic and Latin alphabets equally and Slovenians use only Latin alphabet which is only slightly different than (Serbo)croatian Latin alphabet (i.e. it lacks five letters). Basically, Lt. Col. Škrabar could have refused such a medal and I doubt he’d be remembered as any less of a hero. Quite the contrary probably.

Shoes are boring, wear sneakers (and a critique for my nation mates) (cf08)

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This Converse ad (the text, of course, says Shoes are boring, wear sneakers) was quite popular at the time I was in Maribor and I must say that I totally agree with the ad :D

Now you must think So bloody what?! Why are you showing us an ad?! Has stupidity replaced all your fearlessness, Nel?! I posted this photo as a critique for my nation mates. We had tons of this ads, but they were all in English (before seeing this ad, I though they were in English around the globe). Unlike Slovenes, who respect their language, my nation mates don’t give a shit about Croatian (a quote of my friend, her exact words: I don’t give a shit about Croatian). An ad in a foreign language (especially English) is so “cool”… And, of course, most of my nation mates speak English either badly, terribly or not at all, but they are showing off with English. And by “bad” and “terrible”, I don’t mean that they speak ugly like me (i.e. ugly pronunciation) (note that my speech centre is damaged), they simply love stupidities like Rent a motors or Thanks God and often use such stupidities in every-day Croatian conversation replacing perfectly good (and correct) Croatian phrases with this bullshit.

Have you heard how Croatian representative in the European Parliament, Ingrid Antičević-Martinović, embarrassed us, her nation, speaking English? Well, she doesn’t speak English any worse than an average Croatian and the link I’ve just given you pretty much confirms that. Nevertheless, people here were very happy to make fun of her. They found her pronunciation of People must trust us (“Pipl mast trast as”) the funniest. Mkay, it was funny and I did laugh my ass off listening to her, but off all the gibberish she’d said, People must trust us was the only one that actually made sense. Now, who the fuck did make fun of her?! Most of the people who made fun of her say sheeps, can’t distinguish between their and her (as you can see in the link) and so on and the proof is People must trust us because that’s what people here remotely know the meaning of and know that it sounds differently than Ingrid said it.
Also, note how the lazyasses couldn’t stretch their fingers to Č and Ć and just wrote C (yeah, both Č and Ć are available by a single click – check out Croatian keyboard layout).

All in all, most of my nation mates think, using a foreign language, especially English, is so much cooler than using one’s own language and they mock others who speak English badly (to put it in better words, what they think is bad English), Yet most of them don’t actually speak (in) English, they speak on English

“The Romani question” (cf09)

The Roma (Gipsies) are present throughout Europe yet they only present a “question” in Central and Eastern Europe. I mean, they probably ain’t loved anywhere in Europe, but they are not a “question” in, dunno, the UK.

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A big opening ceremony of a Romani restaurant. Everybody’s happy, cheering, singing, laughing, and generally enjoying themselves in the accompaniment of traditional Romani music.

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…and just a dozen metres to the west, there’s this “lovely” “writing on the wall”: Gipsies, suck a dick

Vocabulary (cf10) ;)

Now, time for another little digression:

There I was, wandering Tatooine (yes, a Star Wars planet) in ToR (yes, a Star Wars game) like a good cowboy, when a few sandpeople (or were they Imps? :o ) attacked me. Anyway, I was in a group with Slovenians and I told to the attackers to suck my dick :D Which made me ask meself how Slovenians say dick. They told me that the standard word would be kurec, but that they all say kurac (I’m sure they “burrowed” the word from Croatian) :D

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And, of course, their most beutiful neighbours must be advertised in Maribor (the text says Embrace the spring in Croatia) :D

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Hmm…, I do wonder whether this manhole leads to Varaždin, Croatia :o

University(s) (cf11)

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And speaking of manholes, let it be known that Maribor is a university town (Univerzitetno mesto) :D although the University of Maribor was founded in 1975. Well, I did see a department of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Ljubljana, and the University of Ljubljana dates back to the 17th century I think :D

This is the main building of the University of Maribor

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This is the University Library in Maribor (slo. Univerzitetna knjižnica Maribor – UKM). Anyway, CEEPUS (probably ERASMUS too, and students of every other exchange programme) get free access to the libraries of their host institution, that includes university libraries. Actually, a librarian at the Faculty of Arts wanted me to pay for membership until the person in charge for foreign students came and asked her what the hell she was doing :o
I did spend a lot of time at the library looking for data for my master’s. I would probably, most likely, be lost without Knoppix because Windows just wouldn’t connect to wi-fi provided by the library. Since people all around me were using Windows, I was pretty sure something was wrong with my Windows. Besides, I couldn’t connect to any wi-fi network in Maribor. On the last day I realized that my wi-fi settings were wrong :o Although, something was really wrong with the wi-fi at the faculty. I couldn’t connect to that wi-fi neither with Windows nor with Knoppix nor with me cell phone (i.e. Android).
One more thing, English isn’t of much use at UKM, as at the University Library in, for example, Helsinki. Neither is it at, for example, the (National and) University Library (cro. Nacionalna i sveučilišna knjižnicaNSK) in Zagreb. Mkay, to be honest, I didn’t really speak English with the staff nor did I search the database strictly for English content (most, if not all, of the results were in Slovenian and the data I used was definitely not in English), but Slovenian was all around me. I think that even Windows on library computers intended for users were in Slovenian.

Vine (cf12)

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Maribor is the home to the oldest vine tree in the world. That is, the tree is more than 400 years old. Now, there were vine trees before and I’m pretty sure there are remnants of an older vine tree somewhere, but vine is still produced from this tree, it has been produced continuously for more than 400 years.
Frankly I wasn’t much impressed by what I saw (a house and vine tree branches), but still… the oldest vine tree on the planet!

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Me in front of the hose. Yeah, the day was quite chilly (…and sunny).

Mestni park (cf13)

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This is a pic of Mestni park (City Park). So a lot of cities have big parks: New York has Central Park, London has Hyde Park, Toronto has Allen Gardens; there’s Park Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Champ de Mars in Paris, Tiergarten in Berlin etc. Mestni park is such a park in Maribor.

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This is aquarium-terrarium located in Mestni park. You can say that this is an equivalent of a zoo most big cities have. Actually, the zoo in my town is located in the biggest city park. Anyway, the main difference would be that instead of having all kinds of animals, the aquarium-terrarium has only lizards and fish. In addition, the whole aquarium-terrarium is indoors.

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Anyway, I just had to post this pic from the aquarium-terrarium. Yep, these turtles are sleeping on a crock, and the crock was in a pretty deep sleep too. Otherwise, I doubt he’d allow the turtles to be on his back (actually one is pretty much on his head). This scenes brings me back to TMNT and childhood (hell, I still like the turtles so lemme just shout here: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES!!! :D ). I do wonder whether the four turtles are in fact Leo, Raph, Don and Mikey, and whether the crock is Leatherhead ;) I guess that a rat must be hiding somewhere around here in that case :o

The river Drava (cf14)

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Maribor lies on the river Drava. Two things about the river: one, there are no dikes and houses are located very near the water, which tells us the Drava is pretty calm in Maribor; two, the river was very important for transport in the past. The transport was done on rafts. Actually, along the river coast, there are Rafter’s education tour (slo. Splavarska učna pot) signs telling about the history of sailing on rafts in Maribor. There is also a tourist raft that brings the sailing closer to tourists. Unfortunately, the raft starts operating at the end of April and I realized there was the tourist raft on the day I returned home :(

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An interesting geomorphological phenomenon on the Drava in Maribor is Maribor Island. The island is shown is this pic. Now, the island is a real island, a real deal, not just a sandbar. Suffice it to say, real islands are rare on rivers, especially small rivers like Drava. Other than the aqua-centre, which was of course closed in April, the island is pretty much pure wilderness. Actually, there are a lot of snakes there, none of which are poisonous… I think – I was lucky enough to be on the island on a cold cloudy day, so every slithery thing was hiding in its hole.

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And you’ve got a nice view of the dam from the westernmost reach of the island :D

Campus Gosposvetska (cf15)

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This is the campus I stayed at.

The campus is located next to the Faculty of Arts. The Department of Geography is a department of the Faculty of Arts, so I stayed like three minutes away from my classes.

A little trivia here: In my town, the Department of Geography is a part of the Faculty of Science while the University of Belgrade has a whole faculty of geography. My point is that geography is interdisciplinary!

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So this is the Faculty of Arts

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Speaking of the faculty, this is the copy shop of the faculty.
Yeah, a bit “bigger” than ours ;) Mkay, the building of the Faculty of Arts in Maribor is quite bigger than the building of Department of Geography in Zagreb. Furthermore, you might say a faculty is quite bigger than a department anyway. True, only we share the building with the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology, and with Croatian Institute for Social Sciences, so…

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And this is the window of my room :D

The best tea in the galaxy (cf16)

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This is the best tea in the galaxy, the best of all times.

There are many mountain teas, but no tea can beat this one.

Seriously, I don’t give a shit how tea drinking the English are, before they try this shit, they now nothing.

The problem is that it can rarely be found in Croatia despite the closeness of Slovenia and despite the packing actually stating the Croatian importer.

I’ve heard “rumours” lately that the tea has began resurfacing in Croatia, probably because a Croatian tycoon bought the biggest Slovenian food chain.
In any case, the first thing I did in Maribor was emptying a shelf of the tea in a nearby store. Then I emptied the shelves of a few other stores. The employees of the stores kept looking at me strangely, but I did supply meself for winters to come :D Actually, I’m beginning to run low on the shit :( TIME TO VISIT SLOVENIA AGAIN :D

Anyway, remember: it’s 1001 CVET PLANINSKI ČAJ!!!

Final words (cf17)

When I got the email informing me my scholarship for the month had arrived, I checked to whom else the email was sent so I might contact the fellow exchange students. Anyway, the email was sent to three other people. I recognized one was a Montenegrin because his email address ended in Montenegrin top-level domain [.me (true, because of the word me .me domain is often used outside Montenegro and a lot of people don’t even know it’s Montenegrin, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-Montenegrin .me email address; besides the address domain was t-com and I know T-Com is a telecommunications provider in Montenegro)]. I recognized another to be Croatian because she had a common Croatian surname. I couldn’t really place the third student. The top-level domain of her address was .com and her surname did sound Slavic, but I couldn’t be any more precise. I only concluded she was likely a Latin-writing Slav, probably Czech or Slovak, because Cyrillic letter Ч would probably be transcribed to ch in an email address. Latin equivalent of the letter Ч used by most Latin-writing Slavs is Č, which is usually written just as c in email address and the C in her address sounded like Č, not real C so… (you gotta congratulate me on my “smart” deduction now :D )

Anyway, my guess turned out to be pretty accurate. The girl was a Slovak :D And only she really replied. The Montenegrin just told me Yeah, we understand each other (I asked him if we understood each other in Croatian, as I do everyone I think might understand Croatian :D ) and the Croatian didn’t even reply to my email (actually I think I sent two, and she replied to neither).

I did spend some time with the Slovak girl. She studies English and German. A few years back she’d worked on the Croatian island of Pag and she had picked Croatian there. Since she was in Maribor for the whole semester, she picked some Slovenian too though she told me the problem with Slovenian was that she hadn’t had much use for it while staying in Maribor. She communicated with her professors in English or German and most of the students spoke English anyway, On the other hand, she was forced to learn Croatian while she’d been “trapped” on Pag. Her job was to guide Czech and Slovak tourists (yeah, she speaks Czech too, but all the Slovaks do, they even import Czech movie dubs… which means that the Lord of the Rings I watched in Bratislava was in fact in Czech and not Slovak :D ) and she could speak English, and especially German, to other tourists (the vast majority of tourists visiting Croatia are Germans), but that didn’t help her much when talking to other people on Pag.

The girl asked me to teach her Croatian names of months of the year. She told me how certain months have the same name in Czech while others have the name of another month in Croatian. For example, listopad is October in Croatian and November in Czech! Now to make a parallel:
Czech and Slovak in Czechoslovakia could be compared to Serbian and Croatian in Yugoslavia. The difference is, there is more difference between Czech and Slovak than there is between Serbian and Croatian. Anyway, Czech could be related to Serbian because Czech was spoken more in Czechoslovakia and Serbian was spoken more in Yugoslavia and Slovak to Croatian. Yet Czech and Croatian use Slavic names of the months while Serbian and Slovak use classic names of the months (January-, February-, March-like).
And now to return to dubbing again :D Movies and stuff are rarely dubbed in Croatia and Serbia. We use subtitles. The only things we usually do dub are cartoons. Now, Serbs often import these dubs from us. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Serbian dub in Croatia (Bobo, Bil i raja se ne računaju ;) ). Seems that dubs are connected to the names of the months on some level :o

My birthday is on April 22nd, so I treated me Neighbour with a movie. Anyway, we went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The movie was quite amazing although I don’t acknowledge Spider-Man without MJ. It was interesting that the movie started the second the room went dark. No ads, no trailers, no nothing! Just the movie :D I’m used to at least 15 minutes of gibberish before the movie, in other words I’m used to being 15 minutes late to a movie, but that ain’t working in Maribor and that’s just great :D I don’t really mind the trailers, they let you see what’s on, but I just hate the ads. I mean, I pay a ticked to be spammed with buy this, buy that, shop here, shop there >:(
Sony must have been a sponsor of the movie or whatever because every single laptop in the movie was Sony Vaio (I have a Sony Vaio :D ).
Funny thing is that we watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the cinema and a few days later there was Spider-Man 2 (from 2004) ×D

Speaking of movies, a Star Wars marathon is currently in progress (one movie per Sunday) and it was in progress when I was in Maribor :D A New Hope was last Sunday (yes, it’s my favourite – The Empire Strikes Back – next Sunday) and so was on my first Sunday in Maribor :D The picture quality was quite bad though, but I was just happy the channel was available. I remember writing an “ad”, on a piece of paper, that I was watching Star Wars that day and anyone who’d like to watch the movie with me was welcome, just had to knock on the door. Nobody came :(

As I said, I only stayed in Maribor for a month. I had to write the master’s, do an internship and prepare meself for Helsinki. In the end, I think I made a wrong decision and should have stayed at least for another month.
At the very least, I should have gone in May instead of April. There was a quite cheap field trip to Brno and Zlin (those in the “shoe” business probably know Zlin’s shoe brand Bat’a, actually the factory was the key reason of the trip), Czechia and the Slovak girl organized a trip to Italy.

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Most importantly, my favourite Croatian band held a concert in the bar in the campus I stayed at on May 6th and there was no entrance fee (prost vstop)! Yes they held a free concert in a place just a few metres from where I slept just six bloody days before!

What else is there to say about Maribor? Oo oi! Maribor is the first place where I saw Finnish vehicle registration :D

CELJE (cf18)

Celje is the third largest city of Slovenia. It is one of the stops of the train from Zagreb to Maribor.

The town is interesting because it lies on four rivers. Kinda like Karlovac, Croatia which lies on five rivers.

There is a mediaeval castle overlooking the town. I really wanted to see the castle and I did. But the way to castle on foot is quite long, even for someone not screwed like meself. I did walk to the castle and I lost much time walking to the castle. Then I stayed at the castle for a few hours and then I spent much time returning to Celje. In the end I missed the early train back (“early” being 5:00 PM). Anyway, because I spent so much time in the castle, I managed to only move around the railway station a bit and not really see the town.

Picture time (cf19) :D

Here are the few pics of the town I took:

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The knight has the coat of arms of Celje on his breastplate. Actually, the stars on the coat of arms are so important to Slovenes that the coat of arms on Slovenian flag has them.

Celjski dom (cf20)

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This is the front of Celjski dom.

Celjski dom was built in the early 20th century as the main seat of Germans in town. It was intended to contrast the Slovenian community centre Narodni dom, which today serves as Celje city hall while Celjski dom is a community centre. Many concerts are held there throughout the year, a theatre is there, as is  the tourist information centre.

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This is the west side of Celjski dom.

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This semaphore intrigued me because it has separate lights for cyclists :D

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I hadn’t encountered a single stray cat cat in Maribor (nor in Helsinki for that matter). I saw this fellow when I was walking to Castle Celje. The kitty in the pic was the only cat I saw in Slovenia (at least last year) and the little furball came straight to me :D

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A street sign I encountered on my way to the castle. Dolarjeva ulica can be translated as Street of the Dollar. Unfortunately, the greenery surrounding the sing ain’t the greenery ;)

Castle Celje (cf21)

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And finally, the castle.

Remember my post about castles in Zagorje? I mentioned the legend of Veronika Desinić concerning the castle Veliki Tabor there. Anyway, Veronika’s lover was from Celje. Actually, the father of her lover was Count Herman II of Celje and this was his castle. The castle plays a vital role in the legend of Veronika Desinić. Castle Celje and Veliki Tabor are intertwined, both in legend and in the real history. After all, the border between Croatia and Slovenia didn’t exist back then and we were all one big (more-or-less) happy family.

SAM_3445 (800x600)An “inside look” of the castle.

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A beautiful view of Celje from the castle

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I bought this medallion in a gift shop in the castle. The inscription (Grofje celjski) says the Counts of Celje and that’s their coat of arms (just without colours :o ). Anyway, I just love to wear this shit. Seriously, I wear it pretty much always :D Definitely the most used souvenir I have ever bought :D

GRAZ (cf22)

No kangaroos
I just had to buy my speech therapist a No kangaroos in Austria magnet because she lived in Australia for 5 years :D

The last week in Maribor was an off week at the Uni, so me and me Neighbour could finally go to Graz.

To get to Graz, we took the same bus I used to come to Maribor. Since the Neighbour speaks German fluently (actually he studies German), I at least found myself a bit useful when talking to the driver (Croatian bus). Though to be honest, me Neighbour would have no trouble communicating with him. After all, we two are managing to communicate without English, but still since the driver was Croatian and I’m Croatian, I did the talk in the bus. The Neighbour was in charge of Graz :D

Anyway, remember how I said Slovenians love to hold vehicles with Croatian registration at the border? Well, we waited for an hour for the bus because it was held at the border. Actually a couple of tourists asked us if it was normal to wait like that (and they were quite disappointed when we arrived in Graz and found out me Neighbour wasn’t from Graz nor an Austrian for that matter :D ). The border between Austria and Slovenia is practically non-existent. I mean, the bus didn’t even slow down at the border. That’s why we arrived back to Maribor accurately to the second (no Croatian border between Austria and Slovenia).

Speaking of the bus and Croatian border, when I was returning home, I heard questions like Do we need passports? then answers like I think not, but I ain’t sure. Mkay, people (Slovenens and Croatians to be precise), I DON’T REMEMBER WHEN WE NEEDED PASSPORTS FOR SLOVENIA (AND VICE VERSA). EVER SINCE I REMEMBER WE COULD ENTER SLOVENIA WITH (VALID) ID CARDS (AND VICE VERSA)!!! NOW THAT WE ARE IN THE EU, WE DO NOT NEED A PASSPORT TO ENTER ANY EU MEMBER. THAT’S RIGHT, WE CAN GO TO EVERY EU MEMBER, INCLUDING SLOVENIA, WITH OUR ID CARDS, AS LONG AS THEY’RE VALID, OF COURSE. YOU CAN GO TO THE UK WITHOUT PASSPORT, YOU CAN GO TO GERMANY WITHOUT PASSPORT, YOU CAN GO TO FINLAND WITHOUT PASSPORT ETC. END OF STORY!!! I went to Estonia without passport. We are citizens of the EU now, for Christ’s sake!
I wonder if the vote for the accession to the EU passed so slimly because people hadn’t known (and still don’t know) stuff like this about the EU… I mean, you just don’t give a shit, but when you come to a border, it’s like Oh my God, what do I do?! Where is my passport?! and even if you hadn’t know that no passports are needed, you could have bloody checked before travelling.

Styria (cf23)

Now like Maribor, Graz is in Styria, a region shared by Austria and Slovenia. The region dates back to the Duchy of Styria of Austrian Empire (later Austri-Hungary). Graz is the capital city of Austrian state Styria and the largest city in Styria (both Austrian and Slovenian) while Maribor is the second largest. Now, Graz has always been important to Slovenes. Even today, there are many Slovenian students at the University of Graz (before I decided to apply for Maribor, I considered Graz, btw), particularly from Maribor and there are many Slovenian workers in Graz.

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Picture time (cf24) :D

So picture time now:

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The first thing we saw in Graz. Bloody hell, this lexicon alone is worth learning German :D

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Colourful buildings :D

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The river Mur in Graz

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An “island” on the Mur in Graz. Not quite like Maribor island, ah? Or any other island for that matter :o I think there’s a cafe on the island.

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Graz City Hall

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Viđu Vinkovce u Grazu :D [Vinkovci is a town in Croatia… and it was written on Croatian tricolour (i.e. red-white-blue) with the Croatian cheque in the middle :D ]

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Aha! 30 % niža cijena. Raja navali u Billu po kilu ćevapa za samo 3,99€, prava sitnica :D

Geek time now (cf25) :D

Me Neighbour and I visited the many game (and comic) shops Graz has to offer.

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You can buy a Super Nintendo for only €65,99 :D

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…or if you prefer something newer, you can buy Nintendo 64 for only €110 :D Note how the console is shiny turquoisely transparent :D

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There is, of course, a lot of SNES and N64 games to choose from, so your “new” console doesn’t get lonely :D

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Screw SNES and N64! Let’s go further back and buy a NES or an Atari game! :D

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…and I’d say the pricing is reasonable :o After all, the game is cheaper than a console (SNES, at least)…
E, ova cijena je prava sitnica :D

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Link! :D I think I saw Drizzt somewhere too though I do not know why the hell I didn’t take a pic of him :o

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And I just took a pic of shelves full of Croatian magazines in a book shop in Graz. Ironically, I didn’t see anything in Slovenian although Austria is neighbouring Slovenia, not Croatia and Graz is much more important to Slovenians than it is to us (Graz is still popular here). Probably because (Serbo)croatian is more spoken than Slovenian and there’s more Croatians than Slovenes.
Actually, there are a lot of Croatian papers and magazines in kiosks in Slovenia too. The only Slovenian thing I remember seeing in Croatia is a daily newspaper Delo :o

I talked about the Maribor Castle, I talked about Castle Celje, but I’m afraid I’m gonna disappoint you now. I didn’t go to Graz Castle because me Neighbour didn’t want to use the lift and the climb is a bit to much for me, at least when I want to see a town and see it in time, so I we, don’t miss the bus :)

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This is definitely the bust buy in Graz :D I wanted Yoda, but they didn’t have Yoda nor did they have Chewie, so an ewok was the next logical choice. When you press the ewok’s belly, it says that ewok gibberish (Oota, chiah gombuh fenguh wuh or something) :D


Since I had covered a lot of area in this post, I thought it fit to end the post with a map showing the locations (of most) of the stuff I wrote about.


Posted on January 23th, 2015 at 23:54 GMT
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Plonkerness rising

Over the past week, you might have stumbled upon a few other Nelandir’s Independent Tradings Co. To be precise on and

What’s the deal? Are these just scams or am I “expending the business”?

In short, I made the two sites in question.

I recently (i.e. on 23 Dec 2014) graduated. This makes me, only for a short time I hope, unemployed so any penny would come in handy. I thought Why not make some money online? In addition to current moneyless state I’m in, making money online is a good additional income, no matter the amount of money a person actually earns online. The easiest way to (legally) make money online is through AdSense. Basically, AdSense is a plugin that puts a few adds in your posts. You make money through the number of clicks on your add. As I’m told, the actual amount of money per clicks varies a lot ranging from just a few cents to €100. Anyway, free WordPress blogs don’t offer AdSense, so I was forced to look elsewhere. Upon registering to AdSense, Google offers you to make a website on Blogger for free. Thus was born. Now, Blogger says my blog isn’t eligible for AdSense yet. I probably have to write a few posts first and wait for a bit (6 months I think).

Looking for a way to earn money online, I stumbled upon WealthyAffiliate. Are they a scam? Not really I think, at least not in the true sense of the word. I have certainly found useful what I’ve read there so far. Yet if you ask me, they do play dirty. Namely, they keep bombarding you that as a Starter (free) Member, you only have a taste of Premium for the first seven days and that you should upgrade to premium as soon as possible.
Anyway, I created another site through WealthyAffiliate and that’s Note that SiteRubix is WordPress in disguise (i.e. the interface is the same) and messages within SiteRubix usually say WordPress instead of SiteRubix. Nevertheless, unlike WordPress free SiteRubix has a few (manageable) plugins. Most importantly, All in One SEO Pack. Another shiny plugin is SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam (before commenting people have to enter a CAPTCHA code, which eliminates a lot of spam). On the other hand, it lacks some shine free WordPress features [e.g. SiteRubix offers only a few free themes (this theme – Twenty Twelve – ain’t among them)].

To sum it all up, I think I’ll keep this blog on WordPress and make a site in a specific niche (probably in GIS) on SiteRubix or Blogger… or somewhere else where I can use AdSense :D Being in specific niche, it will most likely attract more people from the field of the niche, the adds should be niche connected – all in all, more clicks, and hopefully more money :D


P.S. Since I am looking for a job, in case an employer ends up reading this, I graduated geography (GIS to be precise), so if you’re looking for a geographer or a GIS analyst (GIS can be implemented virtually everywhere), please email me on

Posted on January 10th, 2015 at 12:14 GMT
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Finnish language

To view this post correctly, I suggest using Unicode (UTF-8) (it should be loaded automatically).

Finnish is, just by being a Finno-Ugric language, a special lingo in Europe where most lingoes are Indo-European.

Finno-Ugric language group is a relatively small language group and the lingoes are mostly spoken in Europe, at least by the number of (native – it’s very hard for a foreigner to master a Finno-Ugric language) speakers. Those two claims can be seen in the three most spoken Finno-Ugric lingoes – Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian. The most spoken of the three is Hungarian (some 14 million speakers) while the third “most” spoken, Estonian, has some 1.3 million speakers. As a comparison, English has around a billion speakers, out of which some 360 million are native.
Although Finno-Ugric languages differ a lot in grammar and structure from their Indo-European neighbours; being in Europe, their vocabulary has been highly influenced by other European (meaning Indo-European) lingoes. Finnish has mostly been influenced by Swedish [a co-official language of Finland (because Swedish-speaking Finns are a very important part of Finnish culture)].

Let’s concentrate on Finnish from now on.
Nevertheless, I’m going to mention Mandarin (the most spoken Chinese language) now. People often claim that Mandarin is the most difficult language on the planet, yet the language has virtually no grammar. In the sense European-language speakers refer to grammar (no plural, no articles, no tenses etc.), of course. Only Chinese script is truly difficult. So why do people say Mandarin is the most difficult language? It is difficult from the perspective of a European language speaker because Chinese differs so much from what we’re used to.
Just to point out I did talk to Chinese at the Summer School.

And what about Finnish? I can pretty surely say that Finnish is the most difficult language on the planet. By that claim, I, of course, mean the most difficult language which is spoken by relatively many people. I’m sure there’s a more difficult language somewhere in Siberia, in the middle of Amazons and/or Africa, but the number of speakers of such language(s) is hardly 5 million.

Before I explain my claim, there are two things that work in Finnish “favour”: the lingo has no grammatical articles [a(n)/the] and has no genders. Indeed, the lack of gender is a real relief when learning a foreign lingo [as is the lack of articles, especially to us whose native lingo lacks articles to begin with (furthermore, the usage of articles varies in languages that do use articles – e.g. Germans would say Ich bin Ingenieur, I am engineer (without an!))]. Genders are one of the most difficult things for German learners (die/der/das).
By no genders, I don’t mean like English, which has it pretty simple where everything, but that with strictly defined sex, is neutral [i.e. everything is “it”, expect when you’re sure something is male or female (e.g. a dog is “it” unless you know he’s Rex, when “it” becomes “he”, or she’s Lilly, when “it” becomes “she”)]. By no genders, I mean really no genders (the pronoun hän means both he, she and it). That’s why Finns often mix genders when speaking a foreign language (not that often in English ’cause pretty much all Finns are fluent in English) (e.g. Finns are known to say Did you see her?! and when you ask them who, they reply That man!). The lack of gender is characteristic to Finno-Ugric lingoes. That’s why Hungarians often say Frontisek je popizdila! :D (Frontisek has been pissed off!) in Croatian, Frontisek being a male name and je popizdila being a female verb form. Croatian has a complex gender system. I mentioned genders in Croatian a bit in the previous post.

Finnish is a synthetic language, meaning suffixes and prefixes are preferred to prepositions and other “additional” words. The language has 15 (some say 14) grammatical cases. As a comparison, English doesn’t really have any cases because various meanings are shaped only through prepositions and there are neither suffixes nor prefixes (i.e. only in, at, on etc. but the word table is always table). “Leftovers” of cases in English are me, him, her, us (dative forms of I, he, she and we). German has four cases (nominative, genitive, dative and accusative) and Croatian has seven (seven is usually considered a lot). Then there are plurals. When you put Finnish grammar together, you get a mess. If you wanna speak Finnish, when learning a new word, you must learn tons of words because the word you have just learned is just nominative singular… or infinitive or such. A single Finnish word can be an entire phrase (e.g. talossanikin means …in my house, too). There is another lovely example: peruspalveluliikelaitoskuntayhtymä which means a public utility of a municipal federation for provision of basic services.

Another tricky thing about Finnish is pronunciation.
Firstly, though, I’d like to point out another thing working in Finnish “favour” :D For that, I’m gonna analyse the Finnish alphabet and spelling:

Finnish spelling is pretty much simple because it’s phonetic (i.e. one letter or a combination of letters corresponds with one sound).
Double letters actually serve a purpose in Finnish [can someone, please, explain to me why letters in the following English words are doubled: follow, Finnish (yet, we have Finland and Fins one bloody N!), Scottish (again Scotland and Scotsone bloody T!) professor, accuse, prodding etc.?!]. Double letters show the sound is long, which is very important in Finnish.

Finnish alphabet:
A B C D E F G H I J K M N O P Q R S (Š) T U V ( W ) Y Z (Ž) Å Ä Ö

I placed Š, W and Ž in brackets because they’re usually considered the variations of letters S, V and Z. I find it interesting, though, that Å, Ä, Ö are alphabetized separately. Furthermore, they’re put at the end of the alphabet which looks odd to me [if alphabetized, diacritics are usually put right after the letter they’re based on (e.g. it’s A B C Č… in Croatian), or such is the practice outside Scandinavia :D ].
Basically, Finnish alphabet is quite “rich” (not as reach as Slovak, of course :D ), but many letters have just an honorary place and are only used in some loanwords and foreign names. Those letters are: B, C, F, G (except in the digraph ng), Q, Š, W, X, Z, Ž and Å. Basically, eleven letters of Finnish alphabet are foreign! Since Finnish spelling is phonetic, this means that many sounds common to other languages are absent from Finnish!

I find the following foreign letters pretty interesting:
F – Although both Finland and Finnish are called Suomi (no /f/!) in Finnish, the letter F (and, thus, the sound /f/) are often associated with Finland. After all, expect of Finland being Finland in English, it’s Finland in Swedish (note that the word is pronounced differently – -land is pronounced like German Land), a co-official language of Finland and the language of Swedish-speaking Finns, who have strong feelings regarding Finland, declaring themselves Finns (never Swedes), and showing patriotic love and loyalty to Finland. Furthermore, .fi is the Internet domain of Finland and FI is the language code of Finnish. Yet, the sound /f/ is foreign to Finnish.
Š and Ž – I must admit that I find these interesting because they’re part of Croatian alphabet. Š should represent the sound /sh/ (like shit) [yeah, /shkoda/ , not /skoda/, is simply clever (I’m, of course, referring to the slogan of Škoda the car brand) :D ] and Ž should represent the sound /zh/ (like usually), but those sounds, like all palatals are foreign to Finns, that’s why they often pronounce the letters /s/ and /z/. For example, when we went to a pub called Pošeidon in Helsinki, a girl from the Summer School staff told us we were going to Poseidon. Well, I guess the god Poseidon makes you wanna pronounce Pošeidon /poseidon/ :D Another girl from the staff told me she had a Croatian friend called Saša (probably short for Aleksandar) and that she could never say his name correctly. Although pretty much all Finns are fluent in English, some don’t pronounce palatals, usually becoming uzually. Interestingly, the person I said couldn’t say Saša, always pronounces palatals in English perfectly. Unlike many people when speaking English, she even pronounces Budapest correctly (S in Budapest should be pronounced /sh/) :D Š and Ž ain’t available on basic Finnish keyboard layout and are, therefore, often replaced with zh and sh (note that Croatians, on the other hand, just type S and Z when Š and Ž ain’t available).
Also, palatals are frequent in Hungarian. In addition to the capital, Budapest, even the words for Hungary (Magyarország) and Hungarian (magyar) include a palatal [gy is pronounced /j/ (like gentle)] in Hungarian.
X – The letter, usually representing two sounds [(/k/ and /s/ (like sex) or /g/ and /z/ (like exodus)], is foreign to many languages and is often replaced with ks or gz (e.g. Croatian seks and egzodus). Likewise, X eventually becomes ks in Finnish and is reserved for relatively few new loanwords. Actually, X can be replaced with ks in most (maybe all, you’ll have to ask a Fin for a definite answer :D ) such words. Therefore, the word taxi can be spelled taksi. Now, similarly like I mentioned Š and Ž, I’m talking about X because of something I find interesting in a comparison between Finland and Croatia. So, there are cabs in Helsinki with Taksi instead of Taxi sign. Taxi is also spelled taksi in Croatian. The letter X ain’t part of Croatian alphabet at all, so there’s no alternate spelling of taksi with X in Croatian. Yet, taxi is always spelled Taxi on Taxi signs in Croatia (in Serbia too I think, and Serbs transcribe everything).

SAM_3856 (800x600)
Taksi sign on a cab in Helsinki

Speaking of Finnish alphabet, I should clarify a few other letters:
J is never ever pronounced as J in English (Finnish lacks palatals, after all), but as /y/ (like yell). This pronunciation of J is common in many other European languages. After all, the letter J evolved from the letter I where I represented the sound /y/ (e.g. Iesus or the more commonly used de iure).
Y is pronounced like German letter Ü. Similarly, Y is often pronounced that way in German (e.g. Gymnasium), but Finns, like other Scandinavians, decided to just abandon Ü and replace all the Üs with Ys… unlike Hungarians and Estonians, who chose to stick with Ü :D
Å is in the alphabet mostly to honour Swedish. It is called “Swedish O”, being pronounced /o/ (like small). You can never see it in Finnish texts, except maybe in a few Swedish loanwords. Because the letter is used often in Swedish, a co-official language, Å is available on basic Finnish keyboard layout, which is the same as Swedish.

So, you can see that many sounds are absent from Finnish. Why is Finnish pronunciation so difficult then? Well, there are the sounds not so common to other lingoes – /ä/, /ö/ and /ü/ (Y). Those do occur in some other lingoes, so a German or a Swedish speaker should have no trouble with those. The problem is combination. When the sounds are combined, they’re virtually impossible to say, especially in a conversation when you’re supposed to say words pretty quickly. For example, umlauts in German (Ä, Ö, Ü) are replaced with an E following the letter that can’t be umlauted (i.e. ae, oe, ue) [this is especially common in Switzerland when capitalizing the first letter (all nouns are capitalized in German like that) because Ä, Ö and Ü can’t be accessed with Shift on Swiss keyboards]. That practice is impossible in Finnish, because vowel combinations such as ae, äe… already exist. Pronouncing Ä and Ö just like /e/ won’t do in Finnish because the meaning of a word can be changed and similar vowels often follow each other (e.g. äe). Sound length is also problematic; the length often changes the meaning (there are relatively few cases where the length changes the meaning in English – shit/sheet, bitch/beach, still/steel are some examples). Good example are the following names: Mari, Maari and Maarii. These women are not namesakes. They have different names. Especially difficult are the vowels /ä/, /ö/ and /ü/. There is a difference between ä and ää (isn’t /ä/ long /e/ anyway? …and there’s ee), there is a difference between ö and öö, and there is a difference between y and yy.
Just want to add here that long /ö/ and /ü/ appear in Hungarian too, but instead of doubling the letter, the length is shown in umlauts becoming double acutes – ő and ű.
In addition to long vowels, Finnish has long consonants. So taka and takka are not pronounced the same. One (taka) means back and the other (takka) means fireplace, so you gotta take care how you pronounce the /k/.

So, yeah, Finnish spelling system is easy, but putting all the letters (sounds) together and pronouncing words is a little bit tough ;)

There, I think I’ve explained why Finnish is very difficult.
I’d like to conclude the post with a quote of a girl from the Summer School staff: I admire people [foreigners] who speak Finnish. I seriously don’t understand how people can speak the language. If it weren’t my mother tongue, there’s no way in hell I’d be able to speak it. Yes, I don’t remember her words exactly, so Maria, if you’re reading this, please tell me what you said exactly.

One last thing: In addition to the mentioned Maria, if any Fin reads this post and finds anything wrong, I beg him to tell me so I can make the necessary amends.

Oh, and why I referred to Hungarian so much: Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric lingo and is somewhat related to Finnish. In addition, Hungary is a neighbouring country (I’m some 115 km away from Hungarian border :D ) and since Croatia was under Hungarian rule for centuries, Croatian vocabulary has been influenced by Hungarian. Basically, Hungarian is the closest Finno-Ugric language to me.

Hungarian Culture Centre (or something like that) in Helsinki (click on the image to enlarge it).
Remember how I said Hungarian and Finnish are similar? They are ’cause they’re both Finno-Ugric lingoes, but can someone, please, tell me where the fuck is the similarity between Unkarin kulttuuri- ja tiedekeskus (Finnish) and Magyar Kulturális és Tudamányos Kőzpant (Hungarian)?! :D

You can find more information about Finnish here.

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